All startups need customers—that’s basically the most obvious statement you can make in the business world. But too often, consumers are simply viewed as dollars and cents. Business owners only value them if they purchase a product or service. But consumers can offer your business so much more. So if you’ve started or are considering starting your own business, here are a few ways that you can leverage your consumer input to grow your business, without them having to buy anything from you.
Get a New Business Idea
If you haven’t actually started your business yet, but you’re dreaming about it, you can use consumers to help give you some fresh ideas for products and services. All consumers have wants and needs that are not currently being fulfilled. So ask them about it. Put out a survey on Facebook. Stop people in the mall and ask them a few questions. Do whatever you need to do to find out what kinds of unfulfilled needs your target consumers have. If you notice a consistent complaint, ask yourself how you can fill in that gap.
If you have a certain type of product in mind, you can look at competitors and ask people who have used those products what they were missing. This can give you ideas on how to improve on an existing product so that your business will stand out above the competition. When you use consumer input to guide you in establishing your business, you’re creating a product or service that you know people need, rather than making a guess and hoping people will want to do business with you.
Improve Your Product or Service
Once your business is running, it’s important to periodically poll your consumers and ask how they feel about your product or service. Not only is this a good way to gauge customer satisfaction, but it’s an opportunity to get ideas from the end users of your product or service. However, a standard “rate your happiness on a scale of 1 to 10” survey isn’t going to give you much insight, so make sure you’re asking the right questions.
You’ll want to ask things like, “What feature of the product did you find most beneficial?” or “What is one feature that the product was lacking that you wish it had?” Such questions will get your consumers thinking about ways your product could have been better, and you can then leverage that feedback to find ways to improve what you’re selling.
Target Issues with Delivery or Experience
Your business’s success doesn’t solely rely on the product or service that you’re selling. Even if you’re selling something amazing, your company can still flop if you provide a lousy customer experience. So, it’s important that you know how satisfied your consumers are in their experience working with you, and that you ask them how you could have improved. You should do this by creating regular customer surveys for your consumers to fill out.
Again, make sure you’re asking the right questions if you want to get proper feedback. Try questions like, “What part of your customer experience was the least efficient?” or “What improvements would you like us to make in order to improve your purchasing experience?” This may help you find bottlenecks or issues in your company’s workflow, which can impact delivery time, response to customer inquiries, and other issues.
Consumer input is an invaluable tool for business growth—but you have to make sure you’re collecting, reviewing, and implementing that feedback appropriately. So make sure you keep it all organized with a proper idea management software and that you have an individual dedicated to reviewing this input. Otherwise, you’re gathering valuable data and just flushing it down the tubes, when it could be helping your startup to grow and thrive.